Folk Music of Great Britain and Ireland

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folk music

At Farsley Farfield Primary School, the children in KS2 look at a different genre of music each half. During Spring 2, the children shall be listening to traditional and folk music from Great Britain and Ireland, a genre that many would think is dominated by the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland.

Often telling the stories (these types of songs are called ballads) of legendary characters, local people and the local area, British folk music is defined by its use of predictable melodies, making it easy to sing along, and predictable chord progressions, making it easy for other instruments to play melodies over the top.

Stringed drums such as guitars, banjos, mandolins, harps, fiddles are married with flutes and other pipes to create the distinctive sound. Easy to sing-a-long songs are often written, with voices singing in unison and in harmony. Hearing folk music often makes people want to sing or dance!

Famous traditional songs such as Danny Boy are over 100 years old, being written in 1910. The lyrics to Danny Boy were written by an English man but set to an old Irish tune, one from over 200 years ago! Scarborough Fair, a traditional ballad based upon the Yorkshire town, dates to 1670 – that’s over 34o years ago! Loch Lomond, one of Mr Sharp’s favourite songs, was first written down in 1871 – how long ago was that?

Some folk songs are associated with major events. Auld Lang Syne, for instance, is an old Scottish folk song that many people sing at the very start of a New Year.

Many of the features of folk music were taken into popular music – are your favourite songs the ones that are easy to sing along to?

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